Discovery Trail – Follow Lieutenant Clark along the Long Beach Peninsula

Quick Facts:

Location: Long Beach Peninsula

Land Agency: Washington State Parks and others

Roundtrip: 8.2 miles on way

Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Contact: Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau

Access: For the southern trailhead, follow US 101 to Ilwaco. Turn left onto Elizabeth Ave and after two blocks turn right onto Howerton Ave. Park on Howerton Ave. Trail begins on Waterfront Walkway between Advent Ave and Pearl Ave.


Good to Know: ADA accessible, dog-friendly, snow-free winter hike, kid-friendly, bike-friendly, Discover Pass required if parking in Cape Disappointment State Park


Brave the winter rains by hiking this mostly paved trail which replicates the route of Lieutenant William Clark’s famous hike November 19th 1805 hike.  The trail connects communities, travels over a coastal bluff, and traverses dunes along the Pacific. The scenery is breathtaking. But what really makes this trail so much fun for photographers is its numerous historic sculptures commemorating the Corps of Discovery’s epic journey.

You can access this trail from ten locations making for lots of hiking options. But try to arrange for a shuttle to do the whole 8.2 mile trail in one sweep. The trail starts at a California condor monument on the Ilwaco waterfront. Walk along the Waterfront Way through town before reaching bona fide trail. Then skirt the extensive wetlands of Fords Dry Lake.

Next crest a mist-shrouded bluff and enter Cape Disappointment State Park. Then descend to Beards Hollow, a former cove now a wildlife rich marsh. Then head through a gap reaching dunes and sweeping beach views. The path now heads north through waves of dunes passing numerous trailheads.

Stop at interpretive panels, a dolphin sculpture, and a gray whale skeleton and sculpture. The trail then parallels Long Beach’s boardwalk reaching the Bolstad Arch Trailhead. It continues north to more intriguing sculptures—one of Clark and a big sturgeon; a basalt monolith commemorating the historic hike; and finally “Clark’s Tree.” The Discovery Trail turns east here soon reaching its northern terminus at the Breaker s Trailhead.


The Discovery Trail is one of 136 featured hikes in my fully updated and expanded Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula 2nd Edition (Mountaineers Book). For more details on this hike and others (including many on the Long Beach Peninsula), pick up a copy of this book—the number one selling and most trusted guidebook on hiking in the Olympics—today!


For information on where to stay and on other things to do on the Olympic Peninsula, check out Northwest TripFinder



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